Belfast Telegraph

Southampton's Rickie Lambert coming home to Liverpool

By Robert Jones

Liverpool are close to signing Southampton and England striker Rickie Lambert for £4m.

The Liverpool-born player will undergo a medical at Anfield this weekend ahead of what many observers will regard as a shock move to his boyhood heroes.

He will head to Liverpool after tonight's World Cup warm-up game with Peru at Wembley to complete a dream move to his hometown club.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been eager for striking cover for Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and the 32-year-old is seen as the ideal understudy given his Premier League experience.

He certainly offers more options from the bench than Rodgers has had in the last 12 months.

Released by Liverpool as a youngster, Lambert was pursued by West Ham last January when he would have cost £7m, but Liverpool believe they have struck a bargain price for the international.

The Merseyside club have already had a £20m bid for Adam Lallana rejected by the Saints and have now targeted their centre-half Dejan Lovren, but there is no doubt their move for Lambert is one of the more surprising developments in what is already becoming a hectic transfer window for the club.

For his part, Lambert needed no convincing to move to Anfield, even though he will be aware he is playing a supporting role to the established front two.

Rodgers said at the end of last season he was desperate for more firepower as he prepares for a twin assault on the title and Champions League. His squad is extremely thin, despite going so close to the title earlier this month and the minimum he requires is three centre-forwards.

The capture of Lambert for a relatively cheap price should free funds for players that would be considered first choice rather than back-up options.

A summer of numerous outgoings among Liverpool's fringe players, with the squad upgraded to those of proven first-team experience, is certainly top of the Anfield agenda.

Lambert's rise through the ranks of English football has been one of the more romantic in recent years, for some serving as proof that many English homegrown youngsters are discarded too soon.

After leaving Anfield as a schoolboy he played for Blackpool, Macclesfield, Stockport and Bristol Rovers before joining Southampton for £1m in 2009.

He proved to be a prolific goalscorer in League 1 and the Championship, his goals helping the Saints to two promotions before consolidating their Premier League status. He impressed further when Roy Hodgson called him up for the World Cup qualifiers.

Lambert deservedly kept his place in the English national squad for Brazil, but as the latest high-profile name linked with a move from St Mary's Stadium, Southampton fans will be fearing an exodus following the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs.

There are three Saints players in the England squad and they may all have played their last game for the club.

As well as Lallana, £30m-rated Luke Shaw is wanted by Manchester United although it is believed he is waiting to see if any other interest materialises before deciding his future.

Shaw is a Chelsea fan and could yet end up at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool are in talks with numerous clubs across Europe, evidently determined to show they mean business in the transfer market to ensure Rodgers has all the tools at his disposal for a busier fixture schedule.

They have also lodged a bid of £16m for Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, with midfielder Suso a possible makeweight in the deal.

Full-back is another priority for Rodgers, who has been frustrated in constant attempts to sign Ryan Bertrand from Chelsea.

A long list of targets has been drawn up by Liverpool's transfer committee who have been criticised in the past for failing to deliver enough top-class recruits as they abide by the policies of not paying over the odds for players.

Among their other targets are midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri of Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen's Emre Cano.

Belfast Telegraph


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